Why Tenor? Wherefore Bass?

This blog will be the first to begin focussing somewhat on technique. I am wondering just how well I can explain singing and my technique through writing. Whatever the difficulty, I can at least touch on aspects of it that any singer will recognise. To begin, voice types (and do they matter?). I try my best not to waffle but what can I say, I love waffles.

When you develop your voice further, particularly in the world of classical music, voice type becomes an issue. The name of my website says a lot about me and the profession I am working my way in to. The higher voice types- tenor and soprano- have dominated the classical and classical crossover recording scene in the last century; Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli being obvious examples. So branding myself as a tenor has some possible benefits, both in the wider market and for simplicity of getting roles which suit my voice type. But is vocal labelling in general a help or hindrance? I think the answer is both. While standardisation can mean simplicity of choice, I am beginning to feel that some grey is being lost in the black and white. Vocal snobbery is real and is something I can be guilty of, even though I am finding it more and more tiresome in both myself and others. Singing is hard work, believe it or not, and people grasp for both confidence and results. Singers are quick to band together against the ‘unworthy’; those we see as given more credit than due, or those whose success has bypassed the usual lifetime’s slog through failed auditions and minor roles. My own take is that jealousy is pervasive among practitioners of any art form, as is fear. Success comes in different forms for different people. For now I can leave it at that, these issues will crop up again but the stakes are still relatively low for me. Is the labelling of a persona and their voice defeating the very purpose of artistry? I think there is some truth to this. Yes tenors cannot sing bass roles in operas and vice versa- but more modern music forms such as pop/rock/musicals are pushing the boundaries of what is expected from a person’s voice. Whether this is in itself healthy or not is not in question here- I rather like the idea that you can be ill-defined and ‘other’. In the classical world Cecelia Bartoli is an example of an artist pushing or even defying the boundaries of voice types, in my opinion. In some ways I believe that the further into artistry you get the less you should adhere strictly to set conventions. God I sound pretentious. I think the day I say ‘I am an artist’ without feeling pretentious is the day I will have become one. There is no right or wrong in this area necessarily, nevertheless as a singer voice type and the future that it may lead to is something that concerns me.

C x

Do you agree/disagree? Any thoughts? Feel free to contact me and leave a comment below.

Originally published at www.trialbytenor.com.